What is a SWIFT code?
A SWIFT code - sometimes called a SWIFT number is a standard format to uniquely identify all banks and financial institutions globally. SWIFT codes are a standard format for Business Identifier Codes (BIC).
If you transfer money across international lines you nearly always need to use a BIC code, as it’s the way banks, financial institutions and money transfer services identify where to send money on a global scale. You can think of a SWIFT/BIC code a bit like an international postal code. A bank on one side of the world finds the right bank on the other side of the world. Just like sending mail to the wrong ZIP code means it might get lost or returned, the same goes for your money and the wrong SWIFT code.
What does a BIC look like?
A BIC/SWIFT code is either 8 or 11 characters in length:
AAAA BB CC DDD
- AAAA: 4 character bank code. Only letters.
- BB: 2 character country code. ISO alpha-2 country code.
- CC: 2 character location code.
- DDD: 3 character branch code. This is optional and can be letters or digits. An XXX here would refer to the primary office.
More info about SWIFT/BIC codes
There are 2 types of SWIFT code: live and passive. Live codes are for banks who are actively connected to the SWIFT network while passive Codes are used for manual transactions. Passive SWIFT codes will have a 1 as the second digit of the 2 character location code.
SWIFT code registrations and management are the responsibility of "Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication" (“SWIFT”) which is located in La Hulpe, Belgium.
SWIFT is the registered trademark of S.W.I.F.T. SCRL with a registered address at Avenue Adèle 1, B-1310 La Hulpe, Belgium.